Australians lost more than $14 million to crypto investment scams in 2019: report

Australians lost over AU$21 million (roughly $14.5 million) last year to cryptocurrency investment scams, according to a government report.

According to the report, published on Monday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), most of the scams took the form of Ponzi schemes with no real cryptocurrency involved. Cloud mining — which involves the sale of blockchain network hashing power to would-be investors – constituted a common adaptation of this type of fraud.

The losses, outlined across 1810 reports, are four times more than those reported in 2018. A number of reports were made by younger Australians between the ages of 25 to 34.

"Scammers are shifting to more modern payment methods, which are often harder to trace than traditional ones. The anonymity of unregulated cryptocurrencies and other real-time payment channels impedes the ability to recover funds or identify scammers. While most people are still using bank payments, Bitcoin and other payment methods now make up the top three ways scammers receive money," the ACCC said in its report.

Across all forms of investment scams, a total of AU $61.8 million (roughly $42.8 million) in losses were reported in 2019, representing a 59% increase from 2018, per the report.